Sydney Is Like L.A., Surfer’s Paradise Is Down Under’s Florida
Whenever people ask me how I liked Australia during a one-month visit, I always give the same response.
I lean forward in the chair, give an introductory “well,”pause for a second, and then say, “it was okay.”
This response never fails to get a surprised reaction. Everyone expects me to leap up in an excited manner, spilling drinks all over the table as I rise, and shout out “IT WAS AWESOME!!!”
My relatively subdued reply leaves them in somewhat of a silent shock, begging for an explanation.
So then I proceed to tell them that while Australia is a fine place indeed, it’s not all that different from America. And California in particular. In a month there, which took me to Sydney, Surfer’s Paradise, Byron Bay, Brisbane and back to Sydney, I experienced nothing really different than what I get in the States.
Sydney is a less congested, walkable and pleasant version of Los Angeles The place somehow seemed very familiar even though I had just stepped off the plane.
All over Australia, the weather was the same as California, the people looked the same as they do in America, they dressed the same, talked about the same things. Even their distinctive Aussie accents didn’t catch my attention; perhaps that’s because I know so many Aussies I’m used it it.
Even having good Australian beers at the awesome Opera Bar, an open-air slice of heaven at the foot of the famous Sydney Opera House with the Harbor Bridge across the bay, did little to convince me I was someplace other than being in America. Everything else around me pretty much looked like a typical big city in the States.
In fact, there was much more of a cultural difference from California to Florida, where I went after Oz, than there was from California to Australia. Although it’s interesting to note that Surfer’s Paradise did remind me a bit of FLorida, Fort Lauderdale in particular.
You fly that far – Sydney is something like a 17-hour flight from Los Angeles – you expect to be somewhat disoriented in a happy kind of way. You want to stare up at signs you can’t read, ask questions to people with responses you can’t understand, walk out onto a street and be in complete confusion about what’s happening in front of you.
For purposes of contrast, the first time I went to the Greek Islands, I was instantly dazzled. I stood at the ferry dock trying to take it all in – mopeds buzzing like insects, hundreds of people moving about like ants, locals swarming around me waving pictures of their small hotels to stay in, all the while surrounded by white-washed buildings – and I was mesmerized. I immediately fell in love with the place.
It was distinctive.
Australia, alas, was not, and I spent a considerable amount of mental time trying to convince myself I was actually in Australia. It was like I had flown 17 hours and has not gone anywhere. I felt like a boomerang.
But, as I explain to the suddenly silent people who had asked me about Australia, it’s not as if any of this is bad. In fact, it’s quite pleasant.
Australia is nice, the people are great and it’s clean. A lot cleaner than America, in fact. There’s no trash in the harbor, on the streets, on the side of the roads or in the roads as there is in America.
So Australia is a fine place to visit. In fact, I highly recommend it. You can go there knowing you’re going to be immediately comfortable and even have that “hey, it seems like I’ve been here before” feeling, even though it’s your first time.
And when you return, you’ll be saying this to everyone you see: “Cheers mate!”